Popular Science: Comments Can Be Bad For Science

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Popular Science: Comments Can Be Bad For Science

Popular Science explains why it shut down its comments threads.

"It wasn't a decision we made lightly," says Suzanne LaBarre, online content director for Popular Science, the 141 year old monthly magazine covering all things scientific and technological, for the general reader. But trolls and spambots meant that the magazine's online comments threads just had to go. The problem isn't just that discussion gets a bit heated in those threads; it's that a fractious minority can manipulate how the article itself is perceived, and therefore how science is understood. "A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics," LaBarre points out, and the end result of that war is that an online 'debate' - however uninformed it may be - has somehow become more important than the science.

"The cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science," says LaBarre. Two studies, one of which was written up in the New York Times, support LaBarre's supposition, that comments threads can negatively impact the audience's perception of the article itself. In the Times study, conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Dominique Brossard, 1,183 participants were asked to read a fake blog article about a new technology called nanosilver. Half the participants then looked at the comments posted by reasonable, civil people, while the other half looked at the less restrained commentary from the troll pit. The content of the comments was the same across the board - some in favor, some against, some wary - and only the tenor and language was different.

"The results were both surprising and disturbing," said Brossard. "Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself." An attack - regardless of its substance - was enough to make other readers think the worst.

For Popular Science, studies like this were enough to make it shut down the comments thread. It's bad enough to know the trolls are out there, worse still to think that they might actually be able to control the debate, or alter people's perception of the subject under discussion.

Source: Popular Science

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They were surprised by that? Really? They must not have spent much time on the internet.

Isn't there an formula that says a "debate" descends into farce after just 24 posts?

Shame the real world isn't more like the internet, if we could shut up all the people talking about subjects they don't have any real clue about the world would be a better place.

Certainly would stop Fox and other anti-video game mongers out there.

Saying crap like that makes you worse than Hitler...
is the type of comment that derails any reasonable discussions people may try and have on the Internet.
Barring the comparatively troll free escapist forums, you are lucky to see a conversation START reasonably on the Internet imo.
I mean have you read the youtube comments lately.

edit: read my own grammar and it was terrible so I corrected it. Somewhat anyways.

Popular Science requires registration in order to post comments there. Seems to me that they just don't want to bother moderating their own articles.

And while I enjoy PopSci, they're not a peer-reviewed journal. I doubt a few trolls there are ruining science.

But hey, their site, their rules.

Yeah, I'm going to take the time to thank all the moderators who keep this place in check, which must be a rubbish job.

I have any number of complaints about the moderating system, but on the whole they do a pretty good job.

thaluikhain:
Yeah, I'm going to take the time to thank all the moderators who keep this place in check, which must be a rubbish job.

I have any number of complaints about the moderating system, but on the whole they do a pretty good job.

i second this. i really do not envy you guys... you have my deepest condolences. also i love the Gif i see when ever someone gets banned from the forums.

Sounds like the U.S foreign policy -.-

I've never heard of Popular Science until now but they sure don't like looking at problems and creating solutions for them.

Angelous Wang:
Shame the real world isn't more like the internet, if we could shut up all the people talking about subjects they don't have any real clue about the world would be a better place.

Certainly would stop Fox and other anti-video game mongers out there.

Actually, we still have that problem. Cnospiracy sites gain more hits than news sites.

I agree with the article since most of the internet is in the dirt. It's a little unfair to people who actually have intellectual discussions. Unfortunately we can't just look into the comment section for a quick inspiration without someone screaming his head off, but hey we can use out own time to research stuff on our own. Further more, spammers are a total pain and we all know it. Good luck to the moderators who have to deal with these type of people.

thaluikhain:
Yeah, I'm going to take the time to thank all the moderators who keep this place in check, which must be a rubbish job.

I have any number of complaints about the moderating system, but on the whole they do a pretty good job.

the escapist is generally pretty nice but the comments on popular science on the other hand.

every article on climate change was LOL.NO.LIES.WRONG.BIAS. and the comments nearly all ways had some bot trying to scam people.

I never said anything in the comments it wasn't worth it I'm not even a member of the site despite checking it nearly every day.

It's always annoying to read an article about vaccinations and have dozens of idiots commenting on how whoever wrote it is some kind of zionist, new world order, nazi slave to the government agenda to control people and rule the world. They could just have comments as a subscriber bonus, then have someone moderate the comments and ban anyone who is spamming or being a twat. You'd get rid of a lot of the crappy comments that way and they would have a little extra income to cover the cost of moderation.

MinionJoe:
Popular Science requires registration in order to post comments there. Seems to me that they just don't want to bother moderating their own articles.

And while I enjoy PopSci, they're not a peer-reviewed journal. I doubt a few trolls there are ruining science.

But hey, their site, their rules.

I think the point being made is that these comments are taken, on some level, to be as valid as the expert's scientific opinion- a trend definitely mirrored in cable news.

Yes, everyone has an opinion. Lots of people will have opinions contrary to the experts (read:people who spend their entire lives doing this stuff) in a given field.

Does that make their opinion valid? Not really.

Does it make it equally valuable, such that they deserve to be sitting across from an actual expert on a TV show? Fuck no.

Honestly, I never, ever liked the comments section on news articles. For intelligent articles it discourages thinking about the content ourselves in favor of seeing if someone said something that makes sense to you (or to be less charitable, offers you the chance to find a comment that allows you to keep your same views, i.e. confirmation bias). For dumb articles it allows you to argue back, but the flame war traffic just encourages the posting of more shitty articles. It serves no good on any site, I think.

I was so dismayed to see the "comments" sections spread from yahoo news to every other news site ever. I know it brings in page views but by god is it a useless cancer.

(I've seen some obvious "troll bait" articles even here on the Escapist, which is kind of sad for a news site. Witness that "sexiest female characters" that a lot of people laughed at as trolling, but I think it's pretty unprofessional and news-damaging for a news site to troll. Of course if I'd posted that opinion in that particular article I would have just contributed to its traffic, so that was a lovely catch-22. This is a perfect example of why the comments section is useless garbage.)

Well it's certainly no solution to the problem but I absolutely understand they don't want their work shat on and then spend inordinate amounts of time keeping the peace.

But hopefully they will take this opportunity to do some research into forum communities and how to make them behave.

Mr.K.:
Well it's certainly no solution to the problem but I absolutely understand they don't want their work shat on and then spend inordinate amounts of time keeping the peace.

But hopefully they will take this opportunity to do some research into forum communities and how to make them behave.

It's a solution that is unfortunately necessary. These are websites engaged in the important task of presenting the results of scientific inquiry to the general public, and comments by anonymous people who attack the science relentlessly without showing any real evidence for their objections are creating a false impression that the science is either wrong or misleading.

Seriously, just go onto any article about anthropogenic climate change and scroll down. You will find hordes of commentators implying falsified evidence, fictitious reports contradicting the findings, allegations of vested interests, links to non-peer reviewed publications, personal attacks, etc. They give the misleading idea that there is a huge amount of dissent, when amongst the scientific community there is an overwhelming consensus. Same goes for things like GMO.

I'm of the opinion that science and democracy don't mix. You need only look at Canada, where politicians with no scientific training are supposedly forcing all papers on climate change to be 'approved' by the prime minister's office before they can be released; or Australia, where the new government has shut down the body that was designed to provide independent advice on climate change because the Prime Minister thinks climate change is 'absolute crap'. People who don't belong to the scientific community should just butt out altogether.

Maybe if they did better science so a simple comment couldnt disprove it they wouldnt ahve that problem. spambots and trolls? the solution is called moderators.
Right now it looks nothing more than "we conduct "Science". if you dont agree, shut up"

Strazdas:
Maybe if they did better science so a simple comment couldnt disprove it they wouldnt ahve that problem. spambots and trolls? the solution is called moderators.
Right now it looks nothing more than "we conduct "Science". if you dont agree, shut up"

The point of the article was that it doesn't matter how good the science is, because people place more trust in groups they belong to and less in groups they don't belong to. This means (and my own digging into existing research for my thesis backs this up every time) that experts are very rarely the group that people place the most trust in. Most times, they'll trust their family and friends first, followed by community members and leaders, and then the experts. Sometimes the order is different; sometimes the experts come fourth or later, sometimes they come second, but very rarely (maybe never, in some contexts) first.

On the internet, this means that most people will be swayed more by their fellow commenters than by the experts in the article.

Strazdas:
Maybe if they did better science so a simple comment couldnt disprove it they wouldnt ahve that problem. spambots and trolls? the solution is called moderators.
Right now it looks nothing more than "we conduct "Science". if you dont agree, shut up"

Where do you draw the line? Deleting comments because they're inaccurate or misleading? I don't think you could find a person in the world who has experience moderating and would agree to take on a moderating job with that kind of vague ruleset.

The problem is that people take the comments section as seriously as the actual article, probably because of confirmation bias. Solution: no comments section.

Hell, this comments section has clearly not been terribly useful. Did this add anything to the article? I really don't think so.

I'm surprised how many people here actually like Popular Science to begin with. I've read three magazines since my dad gave me a subscription for my birthday because I am a science nerd, and they are almost complete garbage.

The only reason I say "almost" is because every issue seems to have just one or two good articles in it, and the rest of it is just advertising something by saying that a new app about music is a scientific breakthrough that will usheer the world to the future, or obvious junk science. There was one page that particularly cought my attention that was "water with the bond-angle of the hydrogens to the oxygen 0.000002 degrees wider, so it cures cancer!"

I am not kidding. Popular Science claimed to have found someone who cured cancer. I am going to dig in the trash (where I immediatly threw the magazine after reading the article) for that article so I can get a picture to edit into this post.

Edit: here it is. THE CANCER VIRUS ANSWER?!?!?!
image

bedrock scientific doctrine
LOL

DOCTRINE: a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.

Everything my science teachers taught me in school about what science is contradicts the idea of a "bedrock scientific doctrine"

Before Pasteur the "bedrock scientific doctrine" was that maggots spontaneously generated from dead meat
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that the earth was the center of the solar system
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that disease was caused by an imbalance of Humors and fluids in the body
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that "Blacks" were subhuman and inferior to "Whites"
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that it was impossible to travel faster than sound
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that heavier than air planes couldn't fly
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that cells were nothing but tiny bags full of "protoplasm"

I could go on for hours because the list is endless
but now
NOW we have our "bedrock scientific doctrine" as presented by Popular Science! and people DARE DISAGREE?!
the CONSENSUS HAS SPOKEN and it cannot be wrong!

well... except for all the times listed above where the CONSENSUS was wrong
But lets ignore that, Stifle debate, listen ONLY to the PROFESSIONALS and march in lock step with the all knowing CONSENSUS which can NEVER BE WRONG!

...
except when they are

I don't care about PopSci. But banning comments isn't a bad thing in my view. If people really feel it necessary to discuss an article, make a post on the Escapist about it.

For some reason, magazine and news websites always attract the worst commenters. I hate to generalize, but the quality of discourse is not high.

Don't let the name of the magazine fool you, "Popular Science" is not the end-all, be-all publication for all things science related, and it's definitely something I wouldn't take as Gospel.

But honestly, even if it was, I think this is a bad idea. The idea that people don't like having their beliefs challenged, and will fight tooth and nail to maintain said beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence, is nothing new to humanity and human history. Sure the internet may have given a larger pulpit to many of these people, but it's not as if people were more open-minded 50, 500, or 5000 years ago.

As someone who has gone through several changes in their ideological make-up through their life, and knowing others who have done the same, I can say with some level of certainty that essentially saying "well we tried to debate you idiots, but you are simply TOO STUPID to understand" is NOT how you win converts. Further, for those who insist on conspiracy theories, by not even letting them voice their opinions you only further cement their conspiratorial beliefs ("See!? They won't even debate us because they're being paid off by the ____________ industry!!")

As an aside, I noticed in the article that they linked to this NYT article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/opinion/welcome-to-the-age-of-denial.html?_r=0
Although there are some good parts in the NYT article that I definitely agree with, some of it rubbed me a little wrong. For example:
"In that era of the mid-20th century, politicians were expected to support science financially but otherwise leave it alone."
Does anyone else find that a little...off? I mean, what the author is basically saying is "give us money, but don't you dare ask us what we're spending the money on. It's for science, so you wouldn't understand".

drthmik:
bedrock scientific doctrine
LOL

DOCTRINE: a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.

Everything my science teachers taught me in school about what science is contradicts the idea of a "bedrock scientific doctrine"

Before Pasteur the "bedrock scientific doctrine" was that maggots spontaneously generated from dead meat
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that the earth was the center of the solar system
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that disease was caused by an imbalance of Humors and fluids in the body
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that "Blacks" were subhuman and inferior to "Whites"
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that it was impossible to travel faster than sound
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that heavier than air planes couldn't fly
"bedrock scientific doctrine" used to be that cells were nothing but tiny bags full of "protoplasm"

I could go on for hours because the list is endless
but now
NOW we have our "bedrock scientific doctrine" as presented by Popular Science! and people DARE DISAGREE?!
the CONSENSUS HAS SPOKEN and it cannot be wrong!

well... except for all the times listed above where the CONSENSUS was wrong
But lets ignore that, Stifle debate, listen ONLY to the PROFESSIONALS and march in lock step with the all knowing CONSENSUS which can NEVER BE WRONG!

...
except when they are

All of those things were indeed "common knowledge", but were never "bedrock scientific doctrine". In fact, it was the application of scientific principals that eventually overturned these beliefs.

I could go on about how outmoded beliefs that were actually arrived at scientifically based on the best available evidence are rarely overturned completely; generally they are refined or expanded. Or how ridiculous and fallacious it is to assume that the fact that we can have more accurate and detailed scientific models in the future somehow invalidates the conclusions of thousands upon millions of tests that form the current "consensus". Or the idea that the current "consensus" can be challenged with no opposing scientific studies other than the effects of a bottle of whiskey on humans leads people to continue to accept ridiculous and dangerous beliefs, such as the continued denial of climate change.

Thank you for proving my point about the value of this kind of "debate".

Finally someone understands the dangerousness of the idea of free speech!! I vote that from now on this is how all information should be conveyed. One person speaks and no one else is allowed to question or answer back. I find that's the cornerstone of any free and rational society.

"Mein Fuhrer!, I can walk!"

deathjavu:

I think the point being made is that these comments are taken, on some level, to be as valid as the expert's scientific opinion- a trend definitely mirrored in cable news.

Yes, everyone has an opinion. Lots of people will have opinions contrary to the experts (read:people who spend their entire lives doing this stuff) in a given field.

Does that make their opinion valid? Not really.

Does it make it equally valuable, such that they deserve to be sitting across from an actual expert on a TV show? Fuck no.

Honestly, I never, ever liked the comments section on news articles. For intelligent articles it discourages thinking about the content ourselves in favor of seeing if someone said something that makes sense to you (or to be less charitable, offers you the chance to find a comment that allows you to keep your same views, i.e. confirmation bias). For dumb articles it allows you to argue back, but the flame war traffic just encourages the posting of more shitty articles. It serves no good on any site, I think.

I was so dismayed to see the "comments" sections spread from yahoo news to every other news site ever. I know it brings in page views but by god is it a useless cancer.

(I've seen some obvious "troll bait" articles even here on the Escapist, which is kind of sad for a news site. Witness that "sexiest female characters" that a lot of people laughed at as trolling, but I think it's pretty unprofessional and news-damaging for a news site to troll. Of course if I'd posted that opinion in that particular article I would have just contributed to its traffic, so that was a lovely catch-22. This is a perfect example of why the comments section is useless garbage.)

Don't you know anything? Reality operates on consensus! By shutting down the comments you are closing the debate and letting the sane peopleenemy win!

Science is like a fairy. If you don't believe in it, it dies. And yet we have all these liberal elites with their empiricism and their evidence, clapping it back to life!

...I feel dirty.

Psychobabble:
Finally someone understands the dangerousness of the idea of free speech!! I vote that from now on this is how all information should be conveyed. One person speaks and no one else is allowed to question or answer back. I find that's the cornerstone of any free and rational society.

"Mein Fuhrer!, I can walk!"

Freedom of speech doesn't cover being able to comment on a website.

A website is owned by individuals, and organizations. Thus they are not part of the "public". If the owners want to not let people comment, or just moderate the comments. That is within their legal rights, and not in violation of free speech.
Also;

"Freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise."

Just like how you can't go onto your neighbor's property and start yelling whatever you want, you can't go on a website and say whatever you wish without permission.

Also, nice job at the end with the bring up Nazis. Kind of proving the point of why the action was needed in this case.

0w0 p

Well, you know what they say. If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires, both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid.

Angelous Wang:
Shame the real world isn't more like the internet, if we could shut up all the people talking about subjects they don't have any real clue about the world would be a better place.

Certainly would stop Fox and other anti-video game mongers out there.

We wish, right? Of course it's quite easy to say that as we actually know wtf happens on this whole Internet thing.

Imp Emissary:

Psychobabble:
Finally someone understands the dangerousness of the idea of free speech!! I vote that from now on this is how all information should be conveyed. One person speaks and no one else is allowed to question or answer back. I find that's the cornerstone of any free and rational society.

"Mein Fuhrer!, I can walk!"

Freedom of speech doesn't cover being able to comment on a website.

A website is owned by individuals, and organizations. Thus they are not part of the "public". If the owners want to not let people comment, or just moderate the comments. That is within their legal rights, and not in violation of free speech.
Also;

"Freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise."

Just like how you can't go onto your neighbor's property and start yelling whatever you want, you can't go on a website and say whatever you wish without permission.

Also, nice job at the end with the bring up Nazis. Kind of proving the point of why the action was needed in this case.

0w0 p

Replace the phrase "freedom of speech" with "rational discourse" then. What they've done is to let a small minority of assholes disallow anyone from participating in the intellectual process. It's the lazy method of policing their own comment section. Plus it's also a great way to make sure no one can ever counter them on information some might not agree with. The best way to create intellectual stagnation is to remove the possibility of debate.

Also the quote I used is from "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", it has a bit more depth to it than just "bringing up the Nazis". Though I tend to doubt you'd be able to grasp it's meaning.

Psychobabble:

Imp Emissary:

Psychobabble:
Finally someone understands the dangerousness of the idea of free speech!! I vote that from now on this is how all information should be conveyed. One person speaks and no one else is allowed to question or answer back. I find that's the cornerstone of any free and rational society.

"Mein Fuhrer!, I can walk!"

Freedom of speech doesn't cover being able to comment on a website.

A website is owned by individuals, and organizations. Thus they are not part of the "public". If the owners want to not let people comment, or just moderate the comments. That is within their legal rights, and not in violation of free speech.
Also;

"Freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise."

Just like how you can't go onto your neighbor's property and start yelling whatever you want, you can't go on a website and say whatever you wish without permission.

Also, nice job at the end with the bring up Nazis. Kind of proving the point of why the action was needed in this case.

0w0 p

Replace the phrase "freedom of speech" with "rational discourse" then. What they've done is to let a small minority of assholes disallow anyone from participating in the intellectual process. It's the lazy method of policing their own comment section. Plus it's also a great way to make sure no one can ever counter them on information some might not agree with. The best way to create intellectual stagnation is to remove the possibility of debate.

Also the quote I used is from "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", it has a bit more depth to it than just "bringing up the Nazis". Though I tend to doubt you'd be able to grasp it's meaning.

Oh don't worry, I completely follow what you're trying to do. ;p

As for the discourse? Just because they can't comment under the articles doesn't mean they can't talk about it.

Just look around the forums of the Escapist. There are hundreds of examples of people starting conversations over articles form other sites, and sometimes threads about articles on this site.

Also, it is pretty common that sites have contact methods open to the public. So, if people are so inclined, they can most often send emails (or letters if you wish to be old fashioned) directly to the staff of the site.

The reason they are getting rid of comments on their site is because that to them at least the "rational discourse" was being outnumbered by rampant trite arguments with little tested intellectual ground to stand on. All that was lost was a place for some people to cause a raucous.

All actual rational discourse can be moved to other areas, and those who have issues with the articles can direct them straight to the staff themselves.
If they can't just moderate their chat, then this is better then just leaving it the way it is.

Imp Emissary:

Psychobabble:

Imp Emissary:

Freedom of speech doesn't cover being able to comment on a website.

A website is owned by individuals, and organizations. Thus they are not part of the "public". If the owners want to not let people comment, or just moderate the comments. That is within their legal rights, and not in violation of free speech.
Also;

"Freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise."

Just like how you can't go onto your neighbor's property and start yelling whatever you want, you can't go on a website and say whatever you wish without permission.

Also, nice job at the end with the bring up Nazis. Kind of proving the point of why the action was needed in this case.

0w0 p

Replace the phrase "freedom of speech" with "rational discourse" then. What they've done is to let a small minority of assholes disallow anyone from participating in the intellectual process. It's the lazy method of policing their own comment section. Plus it's also a great way to make sure no one can ever counter them on information some might not agree with. The best way to create intellectual stagnation is to remove the possibility of debate.

Also the quote I used is from "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", it has a bit more depth to it than just "bringing up the Nazis". Though I tend to doubt you'd be able to grasp it's meaning.

Oh don't worry, I completely follow what you're trying to do. ;p

As for the discourse? Just because they can't comment under the articles doesn't mean they can't talk about it.

Just look around the forums of the Escapist. There are hundreds of examples of people starting conversations over articles form other sites, and sometimes threads about articles on this site.

Also, it is pretty common that sites have contact methods open to the public. So, if people are so inclined, they can most often send emails (or letters if you wish to be old fashioned) directly to the staff of the site.

The reason they are getting rid of comments on their site is because that to them at least the "rational discourse" was being outnumbered by rampant trite arguments with little tested intellectual ground to stand on. All that was lost was a place for some people to cause a raucous.

All actual rational discourse can be moved to other areas, and those who have issues with the articles can direct them straight to the staff themselves.
If they can't just moderate their chat, then this is better then just leaving it the way it is.

And I get where you're coming from. But, and I honestly hate to play the "what if" game, but what will happen to rational discourse if more venues for intellectual discussion follow suit?

As you said "if they can't moderate their chat", well I have to ask why the heck can't they? Surely they can afford to do so. Why should other sites have to take up the slack for their own disinterest or inability?

I don't know. As I said before you may not grasp why this so annoys me, not because I feel you lack the mental ability mind you, just that I feel it's a cultural thing. I grew up in a dictatorship and whenever I see people willingly give up their right to speak freely and openly it sends cold chills down my spine.


:) I see what you're talking about. That is a legitimate concern. I don't think it's one that will become a serious issue, but it is something to think about.

As for why they can't moderate their chat? Well, it could be that they can't because of funds/finding people to do it for them like on the escapist. Or they could think it's just not worth the time/resources to do it, and in the end it is nice to have but it isn't needed.

As I said, there are other places where people can have the conversations(not just online either), and it's because there are places who are more then willing to moderate their comments.
Plus there are actually a few more sites around who are planning to start moderating now. So I don't think we really need to be that worried about it.

Aware of the possibility, yes, but I don't think there is much of a real threat.

Psychobabble:

Imp Emissary:

Psychobabble:
Finally someone understands the dangerousness of the idea of free speech!! I vote that from now on this is how all information should be conveyed. One person speaks and no one else is allowed to question or answer back. I find that's the cornerstone of any free and rational society.

"Mein Fuhrer!, I can walk!"

Freedom of speech doesn't cover being able to comment on a website.

A website is owned by individuals, and organizations. Thus they are not part of the "public". If the owners want to not let people comment, or just moderate the comments. That is within their legal rights, and not in violation of free speech.
Also;

"Freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise."

Just like how you can't go onto your neighbor's property and start yelling whatever you want, you can't go on a website and say whatever you wish without permission.

Also, nice job at the end with the bring up Nazis. Kind of proving the point of why the action was needed in this case.

0w0 p

Replace the phrase "freedom of speech" with "rational discourse" then. What they've done is to let a small minority of assholes disallow anyone from participating in the intellectual process. It's the lazy method of policing their own comment section. Plus it's also a great way to make sure no one can ever counter them on information some might not agree with. The best way to create intellectual stagnation is to remove the possibility of debate.

Also the quote I used is from "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", it has a bit more depth to it than just "bringing up the Nazis". Though I tend to doubt you'd be able to grasp it's meaning.

You lost me at "rational discourse" being in the same sentence as "internet" without being dismissive.

If someone's able to refute a scientific article, they will likely do so on another publication or even the same one. and any valid discussion is likely only going to happen between people with actual knowledge on the subject. You can argue until you're blue about how one can post links and therefore back up their research, but how many are willing to participate? Go through any comment section and you will see just how brain-dead, offensive, obtuse, inflammatory and ultimately useless commenters are. Hell, how would any of them know the difference between a peer-reviewed article and some random facts listed without context?

The internet has an extremely bad reputation in regards to intellectualism for a very good reason; there is 1% of good content that must be found after digging through 99% garbage or various sorts (that is guaranteed to be more popular because it's typically easier to read) and/or irrelevant (outdated) data. That's being very generous, probably far more than the internet deserves.

TL;DR: when people are stupid, they deserve to be treated as such. Internet comment sections on news or scientific websites are of little use anyways.

Look, the issue here is that people thought their comments on science articles had value.

The overwhelming majority didn't. They just...didn't.

By christ has the age of everyone having their own platform and megaphone given people the wrong impression. About the only upside is that the sheer volume of data makes it slightly harder for it to be used against us.

*shakes walking stick* And stay off of my lawn, ya damn whippersnappers!

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